Music News - April 2021

youtube Jeremy induction-bDuring February the choir has again been represented in Sunday services either by soloists or by small family groups, as well as by home recordings. We are very grateful to everyone who takes part in musical worship virtually or in real life. Neither is the same as singing together in a full choir, but we know that we are very fortunate to have a church which has continued to support music during the past very difficult year, and many individuals within the St Mary’s Music Association who contribute their time and talents to this aspect of the religious life of our parishes.

On 21 February Marisa Baltrock led a livestreamed plainsong service of Compline. This presented a series of musical and logistical challenges, especially as singers in their separate homes had to pick up where the previous chorister had stopped, sometimes against the background of a weak Internet connection with somewhat unreliable sound, or an unintentional alteration in pitch with no discreet piano to guide us back to the right path, and on occasion a failure to unmute. Nevertheless, the quiet, reflective nature of the service triumphed over these vicissitudes, and it was a privilege to take part.

On a more frivolous note, one choir practice was replaced by a terrific quiz organised by Diana and David Hoy. The musical round required us to identify musical instruments from a few bars played. The more conventional instruments included a theramin, a kazoo and the musical saw – this last apparently expertly played by Marlene Dietrich. Even less obvious music makers were a vegetable orchestra and a sea organ played by the waves in Croatia. If you would like to join in the quiz, here are some questions from the round entitled “How much do you really know about St Mary’s?”, the church otherwise known, according to the Bishop at Jeremy’s Induction, as “the cathedral of the Colchester episcopal area”. (Answers at the end.)

1 Which is the greatest
    a) the height of St Mary’s to the top of the spire;
    b) the length of St Mary’s?
2 In which year did the toilet in the church come into operation
    a) 2017; b) 2018; c) 2019?
3 Which animal is carved in the screen between the nave and the chancel
    a) young rabbit; b) young fox; c) young hare?

The Induction of Jeremy Trew as Team Rector on 3rd March was the next special occasion for the whole choir. Thanks, again, to Peter De Vile for his technical wizardry, we contributed 2 recordings to the service. Our organist, Jeremy Allen, wrote a new descant for the hymn ‘Will you come and follow me’ to the tune of Kelvingrove specially for the purpose. We also recorded the anthem ‘Jesu the very thought of thee’, composed by Edward Bairstow in 1911 to accompany words attributed some 800 years earlier to the 12th century Burgundian abbot, St Bernard of Clairvaux. (See YouTube recording of the service

Sadly, due to the continuation of lockdown, the planned Good Friday devotional offering of Faure’s Requiem will have to be postponed. However, the choir will be contributing virtually to services during Holy Week, as well as with live solo and family duets. Meanwhile, in anticipation of being able to sing in small groups in services in the near future, we have ordered individually tailored ‘public speaking’ masks in Marian blue, decorated with musical notes. These are being crafted for the choir by a couturier making imaginative use of the lockdown pause to her usual business.

Ottilie Lefever.

Answers to above quiz
1 a) Height is 193 feet, the tallest in Essex. b) The church is 183 feet long
2 b) 2018
3 c) Young hare, i.e. leveret. Leverett was a churchwarden, whose name is said to be recorded on a tomb in the churchyard on which the wood carver sat to have his lunch.